The Nissan Leaf was the first mass-market EV. It was launched in 2010 (Photo: Nissan)

Nissan has joined a European Union-backed project to install more charging stations for electric vehicles in Germany and Belgium.

The so-called Fast-E program envisions 241 additional charging stations in Germany and 37 in Belgium by the end of the year.

The initiative is part of a Europe-wide effort to boost the sales of EVs, which have languished because of a combination of short electric range, few charging stations and high purchasing costs for the cars.

Nissan and eight other companies are spending 18 million euros to equip stretches of highway in the two countries with multi-standard fast chargers for EVs. Sister projects in the Czech Republic and Slovakia call for another 30 charging stations there.

Improving the charging infrastructure worldwide is key to Nissan's ambitious plans to sell more EVs in coming years. The brand and its sister company Renault are betting heavily on EVs becoming a bigger part of overall car sales in the medium term.

The Nissan Leaf was the first EV sold in larger volumes. It was launched in Japan and the US in 2010.